The initial unboxing experience is very satisfying. As others have said, it is smaller than expected, though I can’t explain why I would have expected it be larger. It’s both thinner and lighter than I thought, and more flexible. When placed in the Nano stand carrying enclosure, the keys are compressed and it’s very thin indeed.
The feel of the keys is delicious. I can’t think of a better word. The key travel is generous, especially compared to short travel laptop keys.
The attention to detail is remarkable. Below each blade is no-slide rubber. The bottom of the SpaceBar is both magnetic and has no-slide rubber.
Challenges for me
- Keys in upper and lower rows aren’t staggered, they’re directly above/below. So my muscle memory needs to be trained for this new experience: V/B and N/M.
- Multiple layers of keys will take some time to get used to. Historically, a piano keyboard had one layer of keys with three modifier pedals. Manual keyboards had a finite number of keys plus the shift key for capitals and special characters. The iPhone has three layers: lower case, upper case, and “shifted” upper case. Now the TextBlade brings an even more complex set of layers:
- Lower case layer - same silver capital legends - no separate legend (??)
- Upper case layer (via shift)- capital legends
- Green layer for numbers and symbols (using the SpaceBlade to shift, with green legends to right side of silver legends)
- Shifted Green layer for more symbols (with green legends on left side of silver legends)
- Part of this is due to the fact that there are only 8 physical keys plus the SpaceBar. There are also navigation (cursor) keys, editing keys, and media keys; these have legends embossed into the plastic of the keys. These, and other modifier keys are activated by “chords” meaning pressing two or more keys simultaneously.
This device screams out for a belt case.
My conversation with Mark
I had a long and fascinating conversation with Mark. Fascinating in that we covered a variety of topics, long as into wee hours. I cannot share all the details, but the one that sticks in my mind most is Mark’s vision of
“One keyboard to rule them all”
Now, those are my words, not his, but he sees the TextBlade (TB) as the go-to input device for all computing devices: smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop. The fact that other TREG testers are using it this way is testimony to this possibility. I’ve paired it with my iPhone X, iPad mini, and iMac successfully. I can certainly see the TB and an iPad Pro becoming the mobile computing device for a mobile worker.
Mark has a good handle on recent computer history and current areas of innovation. Our conversation went from IBM to Intel, to Sun Microsystems, to Apple, to Tesla, to mobile workers. [Now I started with smartphones before the current generation of glass-faced wonder nano computers. I started with the BlackBerry, Treo, etc. I had a hard time giving up those micro keyboards for the iPhone. But that’s the way the industry went.] We all know the challenge of sight typing on glass rather than touch typing on a physical keyboard. And we’ve seen the news over the last several months regarding a class action suit against Apple for their <1 mm shallow/flakey keyboard on their latest MacBook Pros.
We did spend some of the time talking about the keyboard, and how to use it. One of my initial frustrations was typing shifted keys on the left blade, as the iPhone keyboard has trained me to shift only with the left side. Typing Cap A with the TB was first a challenge. Then I learned that the shift key is “sticky” - so just like the iPhone, one can tap the shift key, and then type the letter a, all with the left hand.
We discussed the subtlety of the keys. The extent of their multi-touch capability was something that at first I did not fully appreciate. The sensitivity to edges and corners makes typing so much more accurate. The chorded transition to other maps is something that will take some time to memorize but the economy of movement among just three rows of “keys” I believe will be worth it in time.
I see this becoming a veritable “Swiss-Army Knife” of text input. I typed this with the TextBlade on my iPad using the iOS app Drafts 5. The TB’s size and portability are remarkable. Happily, the iPad has a magnetic cover. The TB attaches to it nicely. My iPhone has a metal bar in the back. The TG attaches to that as well. (But I’d still rather have a belt case.)